So little time; so many great ideas

Posted by Jeffrey Johnson

Whenever you make a create a new web-site, blog, or make dramatic changes to one that already exists you have so many good ideas; however you also have so little time.

Should I write about Stephen Williams decision to run in the Primary against the endorsed candidate Robert Fitzgerald in comparison to Ford Bell decision to run in the DFL primary against Amy Klobuchar?
Or maybe I should write on Governor Plawenty’s proposal for free tuition for the top Minnesota High School students? Or comment on the bumper sticker “Why do so many suffer in the land of Pawlenty?”
Or how about Ron Carey’s latest attack against Hatch and Hutchinson, I mean what suddenly changed the MN GOP chairman plan he actually acknowledged Peter Hutchinson as a candidate.
Or maybe I should write about realistic expectations in the upcoming November elections. Or maybe I should blog about how about the Disenfranchisement of Minnesota or transportation problems in Minnesota, or political news coverage or maybe the price of gas, how to get young people involved in political process, or the two man governor’s race, Give Five, or is it better to have one great candidate or man average candidates.

Let me know what you are interested in reading about.

The State Convention - Apperance matters

Posted by Jeffrey Johnson

As an individual who organizes a three day gaming convention (mgcon) I truly know how difficult it is to make everyone happy who attends a convention, let alone a political convention. I know no matter how perfect the day could have been or how smoothly the convention could have run there will always be complaints.

My complaints should be taken in that light. They are rather minor. Without question I will probably be volunteering to help next year and beyond as more volunteers make things appear to run smoother; again my history of organizing conventions is coming out, it is the appearance that matters.

The reason the IP choose Midway Stadium is fairly obvious; an unconventional convention has the potential for great media coverage. Media Coverage is almost like free advertising and I must admit I was a little surprised when the Media took the bait hook line and sinker. I don’t doubt that if we would have meet in a hotel ballroom in Minneapolis even with the same number in attendance that the IP would not have received the same attention. It was a great coup.

I have little doubt that even though there was a record 277 Delegates and 230 alternates and guests that the IP leadership had hopes for higher attendance. While the Republicans barely reached a quorum for their convention and the attendance at the Democratic Convention was stagnate at best the IP Convention attendance continues to climb. Could you imagine the look on Brian Melendez or Ron Carey had 1000 people shown up?
For the most part the post convention images showed the crowd at it peak; during Peter Hutchinson’s Nomination Speech that in itself probably sent shivers up and down the leadership of the GOP and DFL as it gave the appearance of large crowds.


Do I think Peter did a bad job Chairing the Convention, HELL no. I think he did a very good job considering he was dealt a bad set of cards; I doubt most people could have done better. With the potential for rain, the potential for multiple ballots for the U.S. Senate Race and from what one individual told me a larger than expected showing for Pam Ellison made for a tight schedule as a new potential for multiple ballots for Governor emerged
My critique on what Peter did wrong is again rather minor:

  • He should have avoided talking about the rain as long as it was not affecting the convention.

  • He should have avoided making comments and public requests during the debates.

  • I stick by my assessment that as the Convention Chair Peter should have dressed better; my view was shared by others in my seating area; however I was not as appalled as a couple other delegates were. Knowing he was probably going to be the Convention Chair a pair of Khaki Shorts and a Shirt with a collar would have made those complaints go away. It is not that I am against having fun at political activities rather I think there is a standard that some people need to keep in an effort to appear “professional”. Jim Moore probably got more praise for wearing a suit than he has received in years.


  • When you appear unorganized for even a split second people automatically assume you aren’t organized no matter how close or far from the truth it is.
  • The wind blowing registration material off the registration desk

  • Not requiring delegates to sign in

  • Not having that volunteer greet people as they made their way into the sitting area

  • The Convention Chair asking for additional chairs over the loud speakers

  • These are example of really minor things that if you did you would even give it a second thought, but the moment someone else does you would almost automatically question their organizational or professional skills. In running MGCon I learned the hard-way how important these little things are and how even three and four years later some people still hold those items against me. It is the appearance of organization that individuals want to see.

    Overall there is very little to complain about concerning the convention and that is what made it a successful convention. To the best of my knowledge there were no fights over credentials, no gentleman taking it outside, nor many catcalls from the audience and that gives the impression of strong starting point, as it is apperance matters.

    Aside - I have only been publishing on blogspot.com for a couple days and I have already recieved more messages about my typos than I got in a week on the previous host. I think it was a good choice.

    Moving to Blogspot.com

    Posted by Jeffrey Johnson

    I have decided to move my blog pertaining to my personal commentary on the Independence Party of Minnesota to blogspot.com from its previous home.
    This is change is being done with much thought and consideration of what that means to the readers of my blog on it previous home.

    There is one big problem with moving to blogspot.com; I can move the blog entries the comments however would be lost. In my opinion there were only a few comments and I think that the advantages of blogspot.com provide better ability to control the commentary, this means less work removing the spam that plagued us on our previous host.
    There are several advantages to blogspot.com over the previous host:
    blogspot.com is a bigger host than our previous host and this should attract a larger audience, which is always a good thing for a soapbox commentator like myself.

    I will be spending sometime moving my older entries, as I have decided to near the focus of the blog a number of them will need to be rewritten to focus on the Independence Party and the races they are involved in. However a few holdovers will make their way onto this blog that are just too good not to be included. For my past readers the pieces on Senator Russ Feingold, General Wesley Clark and Senator Chuck Hagel will make it over virtually untouched.

    Well I am off to figure out some more of the controls of blogspot.com.

    Pam Ellison choice to run in the Primary Election

    Posted by Jeffrey Johnson

    Pam Ellison, a political activist who has been involved with the Independence Party since 1998, unsuccessfully sought this year’s IP endorsement for Governor. She has decided to run in the Primary Election against the endorsed candidate Peter Hutchinson.

    At this year’s IP convention I was amazed at the number of people supporting Pam Ellison Campaign and I must admit after her speech that it might take a number of ballots to choose the party’s endorsed candidate. I think many people like myself were unfamiliar with Pam’s campaign spent a sometime reading her web-site just prior to the convention to get up to date. I must say I choose to support Peter Hutchinson because I felt he was a more well rounded candidate than Pam. With the number of Pam supporters from the 4 Congressional District we sat in shock when Peter Hutchinson was announced as the winner of the Endorsement with over 90% of the delegates vote. Not only was Pam defeated she was overwhelmed.

    I wonder if the old adage “Any publicity is good publicity” applies to this situation. With apologizes to Pam in advance; I doubt that Pam Ellison could win a primary election let alone the general election getting and keeping the news about the primary election in the local media helps Peter Hutchinson build name recognition for little or no cost to the campaign and that is what he needs. If Pam gets any media attention the media will automatically have to go to Peter and ask for a response.

    While Pam decision might be good for the IP I really do not believe that Becky Lourey’s decision to run in the Primary is not in the best interest of the DFL Party. While Mike Hatch is the DFL endorsed candidate Becky’s platform might be more in line with the rank and file of the DFL views. Becky has stated she wants to focus on the issues rather than the candidates and that plays into Mike's favor; however things change. Becky has hired a professional fund raiser and other professional staff for her campaign since the convention the only chance she has on winning is to take the issues and make them personal with Mike. The question in this case is can Becky raise enough money to get her views out to populace before the election, if she can raise enough money there is an upset in the making.
    Mike Hatch's current philosophy is to ignore Becky Lourey and focus on the race with Tim Pawlenty.

    Jeff

    State Convention

    Posted by Jeffrey Johnson

    The Independence Party of Minnesota held their 2006 state wide convention at Midway Stadium in St. Paul on Saturday June 24th. Midway Stadium is the home of the St. Paul Saints an INDEPENDENT Baseball team in the American Association.

    My wife and I arrived at Midway Stadium at 1:30, a half hour later than we wanted to after fighting road construction traffic along Interstate 94 and than after getting off the Interstate the traffic around the Minnesota State Fair Grounds for the Minnesota Street Rod Association annual Car Show. It is unfortunate that we weren’t the only ones that were arriving late as many people were arriving after us. We choose to pay the $6 to park in the Midway Stadium Parking lot rather than parking on the street and walking several blocks to the Stadium; something about the potential of rain that made us guess the $6 would be will spent.

    We waited a few minutes to pickup our credentials; an Orange Bandanna, a Envelop of Ballots, the Proposed Standing Rules of the Convention and a few other odds and ends. The process could have been smoother, unfortunately a guest of wind had blown many of the check in documents off the table and they were no longer in order. We waited five minutes or so for them to find all the correct documentation. I was a little surprised that we were not asked for identification or to sign in once we received our credentials.

    My wife and I made our way through the small throng of politicians and their supporters as we entered the stadium. We received our Team Minnesota Stickers, an open letter from Peter Hutchinson, a flyer on Minnesota first statewide election audit, a leaflet from Pam Ellison, and a brochure on Robert Fitzgerald. We spent a moment talking to Robert Fitzgerald’s father (sorry I forgot his name). Finally we made our way to the concession stand for a Coke and a half cold pretzel and than into the stadium.

    A volunteer at the entrance to the seating area would have been very helpful; they could have been directing people to the proper section for sitting. While there were signs for some the Congressional Districts and some legislative districts it was not immediate clear where we were supposed to sit. We made our way up to the CD 4 sign and sat their for right or wrong.

    Adam Levy and Emerson Lake and Lyndale were performing as we entered the seating area of the stadium. They sounded good it was too bad they were a little on the loud side. There was no way to hold a conversation without shouting at the person next to you.

    We had sat down at 1:45 and I must say I was very concerned about attendance; there could not have been more than 75 people in the seating area; not a good sign.

    State Party Chair Jim Moore called the convention to order and turned the Convention over to Peter Theraldson as Convention Chair as more delegates and their guests made their way into the sitting area. Seventy-five became 150; which became 300 and than 500. A total of 277 delegates we seated as well as 230 plus alternates and guests, it was without question the largest Convention for the MNIP.

    The convention chair introduced us to ??? who would serve as Convention Parliamentarian.

    We voted by acclimation to name ??? as the new State Party Treasurer.

    There seems to have been more difficulty with the delegate count as a census of the delegates was called for. A couple of ideas were proposed and started on ways to actually do the census; in the end the Congressional District Chairs did a count row by row. Without Question I think a better check in plan could have

    Endorsement Process for the U.S. Senate
    I felt sorry for Steve Williams as he gave nomination acceptance speech; he is neither a good public speaker nor was he able to effectively communicate his platform to the delegates. By the end of his speech I was more interested in watching the Saints take batting practice, not a good sign for someone running for public office. Steve’s platform of a National Sales Tax to pay for Healthcare and Social Security is not new and has received little support in the past.

    Jim Haviland speech was “interrupted” by several trains from the nearby tracks and it was difficult to gage his speaking ability with the interruptions and the lack of volume control one normally has while speaking (he had no choice but to speak load). Jim spoke about the lack of hope in many people and how he wished to restore hope. He made a few comments on his platform.

    Robert Fitzgerald’s grandfather made a roaring and over the time limit introductory speech for Robert. Robert actually ceded time from his nomination acceptance speech to his grandfather and than gave the same speech I have heard three times. While Robert is the best speaker of the three candidates for US Senate I wish he would have given a different speech; I am pretty sure many in the audience had already heard the speech as he toured the state.

    To vote for endorsement for the U.S. Senate we used Instant Run off Voting. In Instant Run Off Voting you rank the candidates in the order of your preference; if a candidate does not receive plurality of the vote, in the case of the MNIP 60%, the candidate with the least amounts of votes is eliminated and the ballots that list that candidate as the first choice are than moved into the second choice piles. While that is not a great description on Instant Run Off Voting it is good start.

    I voted for Robert Fitzgerald with my first choice, Jim Haviland with my Second choice and Steve Williams with my third choice. While I think that both Jim and Robert had solid foundations for their platform (most of which I determined via their web-sites and mailings) I personally think the Robert has the better chance for victory in the General Election.

    While they counted the ballots for U.S. Senate speeches by already endorsed Congressional Candidates were given.

    First Tami Lee for the Fifth Congressional District gave a speech about her new home in the IP and how she hopes that every one would regard the IP as their political home.

    John Binkowski for the Sixth Congressional District spoke next, John is a 27 year old candidate, in the Same district as Michelle Bachmann-R and Patty Wetterling-D, one of the worst candidate duos I have ever seen. John is without question the best public speaker at the convention and without question has my vote, but will has age scare off other voters.

    On the First Ballot Robert received roughly 55%, Jim 35%, and Steve 10%. As no candidate received the necessary 60% Steve votes were eliminated and people who voted for Steve were now using their second choice. In the second ballot Robert received 61% and Jim 39%, with Robert receiving more than the 60% plurality required and the IP nomination. Robert made a short speech of thanks and we moved on to the next office for endorsement.

    Proceeding the convention I though the closest race would be Endorsement for the Minnesota Governor between Pam Ellison and Peter Hutchinson. While I admit after some research I supported Peter over Pam there were no shortage of Pam supporters in the audience. I was worried it would take several ballots.

    Pam Ellison and Kari Johnson spoke first; Kari was not the best public speaker and created a lull as she spoke; however when Pam spoke she engaged the crowd and people stopped watching the batting practice and turned their attention to Pam. Pam spoke on uniting the people, stopping political extortion, and I was surprised not much on education (which is her forte’).

    Peter Hutchinson and Dr. Maureen Reed followed with Peter’s nomination and his speech. They focused on the four main themes of his campaign; Education, Health Care, Transportation, and the Environment with their motto “Not Left, Not Right, but Forward.” While both Peter and Dr. Reed were good speakers neither was truly exceptional today.

    I voted for Peter over Pam because I believed he had a better resume’ and had already developed a better game plan for the campaign.

    While the votes were being counted the Endorsement Process for the Minnesota Constitutional Offices was done via acclimation. Each of the candidates for the constitutional offices was given a few minutes at the mic, I cannot give much information on them as we waited for the oncoming rain their speeches were short and thanks for considering them.

    Along with Peter Hutchinson and Dr. Maureen Reed Team Minnesota is made up with John James for Attorney General, Lucy Gerold for Minnesota Auditor and Joel Spoonheim for Secretary of State.

    At least the past out ponchos before the rain arrived, it wasn’t a heavy rain but enough to be ignoring.

    Jack Uldrich gave a speech on the future of the Independence Party of Minnesota, sorry Jack but I have no idea what you were done talking about after why he decided not to run for an office. So I can say it wasn’t the best speech of the day.

    They announced the results of the first ballot for Governor, I must admit I had already filled out the second ballot figuring it was going to be close, and I wanted to make it as fast as possible. Peter and Maureen received 90% of the votes and the other 10% went to Pam and Kari. I had to hear the totals again; the Pam supporters sitting next to sat in shock. A number of people wearing Pam Buttons and other regalia had to have voted for Peter if it was that lopsided. Peter and Maureen gave a very short speech and thanked us for their votes and asked all of us to get involved in the campaign trail.

    The convention was adjourned shortly after the short speeches by Peter and Maureen and those of us that paid the modest fee of $35 were given our tee-shirt and the picnic celebration; however my wife and I left as the rain looked more ominous, however it never did.

    In conclusion I think that the IP is feeling a small amount of growing pains during this convention. A few more volunteers were needed and better organization would have been very helpful, I guess I just put myself on the line to help next time.
    A criticism that was echoed by several around me was that the Convention Leadership made some mistakes in the process and some of his comments were made at times that they shouldn’t off; that was hard to explain.
    While Jim Moore and most of the Candidates dressed up another complaint is about the dress of some of the more visible members of the IP. While I don’t mind shorts and tee-shirts, at least make them khaki shorts and make sure the tee-shirt looks clean; however a collared shirt would be preferred.

    Robert Fitzgerald - Candidate for U.S. Senate

    Posted by Jeffrey Johnson

    I met Robert Fitzgerald for the first time at the Congressional District 4 Convention and later heard him speak in St. Paul. He presented himself in a well dignified and professional manner both times.

    Robert’s platform is simple; energy independence, balanced budget, reduction in the National Debt, and an Open Government. What I liked about his platform was the lack of “I am going to change the world when I am elected” mentality you see from most “Third Party” candidates.

    At the convention unless I am shocked and awed by Jim Haviland’s speech I am going to vote for Robert first. Even though when it comes time for the General Election at 29 Robert has an incredible uphill battle to face against two seasoned Candidates. I personally think with a little seasoning Robert would be a great candidate, it too bad he is not running for Minnesota Senate I think he could easily when his district.

    Jim Haviland - Candidate for U.S. Senate

    Posted by Jeffrey Johnson

    I unfortunately must rely on the written word, specifically Jim’s web-site in order to judge the merits of his candidacy for U.S. Senate as I have not heard him speak in person.

    Jim presents the every man story on his web-site, at some point while minding his own business the Politicians got side tracked and are no longer doing what they are supposed to be doing, and now that they made him “mad enough” he wants to go to Washington and correct the problems.

    I do not necessarily agree on equalizing the Tax Burden, however I am sure that if he and I were to have a conversation we probably agree that the current Tax Burden is the highest on the Upper Middle Class and that it should be equalized between all those that can afford it.

    I firmly agree that everyone graduating High School should do Federal Service, however I think that goes beyond Military Service, the Peace Corps, the Freedom Corps, and other organizations are just as important. And the reward should be the training required to be a productive citizen in the U.S., if you want to be a Auto Mechanic than your training should move you down that road.

    If Jim gives an awe inspiring speech at the State Convention I will be more than willing to support his candidacy with my first vote; however as it stands he will be my second Choice.

    Stephen Williams - Candidate for U.S. Senate

    Posted by Jeffrey Johnson

    Prairie Fire a campaign for U.S. Senate:

    Stephen Williams like many Americans wants to see the problems that have been bounced around for as long as anyone can remember get solved. Like most of us his frustration is that Administration after Administration does nothing to resolve the problems.
    I heard Stephen Williams speak at the Congressional District 4 convention; his proposal for using a National Sales Tax to pay for Social Security, Health Care, and to reduce the National Debt. His proposals are not new, they been circulating for at least twenty years and probably much longer, the first time I heard the same basic principals were from my father before the 1980 Presidential Elections.
    While he might be the world’s greatest farmer and have the answers to resolve every issue facing America what he doesn’t have is the ability to speak well in public. He read his speech from the paper it was written on without once looking up from it. By the end of speech at the CD4 convention I was staring at the Visual Aid Board and wondering what had been partially erased.
    I give him high marks for making this run; however his uninspired speech left me with little doubt that I would not be supporting his candidacy at the State Convention.